“Hamas to Show an Improved Hand,” by Simpson & King

Hamas to Show an Improved Hand: Organization Aims to Capitalize On Intelligence Gains From Gaza Takeover
By CAM SIMPSON in Jerusalem and NEIL KING JR. in Washington
Wall Street Journal
July 30, 2007; Page A4

When the Islamist group Hamas conquered the Gaza Strip in June it seized an intelligence-and-military infrastructure created with U.S. help by the security chiefs of the Palestinian territory's former ruler.

According to current and former Israeli intelligence officials, former U.S. intelligence personnel and Palestinian officials, Hamas has increased its inventory of arms since the takeover of Gaza and picked up technical expertise — such as espionage techniques — that could assist the group in its fight against Israel or Washington's Palestinian allies, the Fatah movement founded by Yasser Arafat.

Hamas leaders say they acquired thousands of paper files, computer records, videos, photographs and audio recordings containing valuable and potentially embarrassing intelligence information gathered by Fatah. For more than a decade, Fatah operated a vast intelligence network in Gaza established under the tutelage of the Central Intelligence Agency.

  The Find: Palestinian group Hamas seized rival Fatah's intelligence-and-military infrastructure, which was built with U.S. help.
  What's at Stake: Secrets, expertise and technology are now in the hands of a group the U.S. calls a terrorist organization.
  The Damage: Though the ultimate impact is difficult to determine, Hamas leaders say they will make some details public and share others with Arab governments.

Hamas leaders are expected as early as tomorrow to go public with some of the documents and the secrets they hold.

The exact nature of the threat posed by the intelligence grab in Gaza — including any damage to U.S. intelligence operations in the Palestinian territories and the broader Middle East — is difficult to ascertain. U.S. and Israeli officials generally tried to play down any losses, saying any intelligence damage is likely minimal.

But a number of former U.S. intelligence officials, including some who have worked closely with the Palestinians, said there was ample reason to worry that Hamas has acquired access to important spying technology as well as intelligence information that could be helpful to Hamas in countering Israeli and U.S. efforts against the group.

"People are worried, and reasonably so, about what kind of intelligence losses we may have suffered," said one former U.S. intelligence official with extensive experience in Gaza.

A U.S. government official said he doubted serious secrets were compromised in the Gaza takeover. Other officials said they had no reason to believe that U.S. spying operations elsewhere in the Arab world had been compromised.

Close ties between Hamas and the governments of Iran and Syria also mean that intelligence-and-spying techniques could be shared with the main Middle East rivals of the Bush administration. As the White House prepares to lead an international effort to bolster Fatah's security apparatus in the West Bank, the losses in Gaza stand as an example of how efforts to help Fatah can backfire.

[Yasser Arafat]

The compromised intelligence Hamas says it now has ranges widely. The group alleges it has videos used in a sexual-blackmail operation run by Washington's allies inside Fatah's security apparatus. But the group also says it has uncovered detailed evidence of Fatah-controlled spying operations carried out in Arab and Muslim countries for the benefit of the U.S. and other foreign governments. Hamas also alleges that Fatah intelligence operatives cooperated with Israeli intelligence officials to target Islamist leaders for assassination.

"What we have is good enough for us to completely reveal the practices [of Fatah-controlled security services], both locally and throughout the region," said Khalil al Hayya, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, who has assumed a leading role on the intelligence issue for the Islamist group.

Michael Scheuer, a former top CIA counterterrorism analyst who left the agency in 2004, said the U.S. had provided the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority with "substantial help" in training as well as computers, other equipment and analytical tools. Other former intelligence officials confirmed that the U.S. gave Fatah-controlled services sophisticated intelligence-gathering equipment, including eavesdropping technology, though these officials wouldn't provide more precise details about the technology.

This kind of technology, along with the knowledge it yields, is broadly known in intelligence circles as "Sigint," which is shorthand for "signals intelligence." It can include eavesdropping equipment, devices used for intercepting radio, microwave and telephone communications and telemetry technology that allows the user to pinpoint the location of someone holding a communication device, such as a cellphone.

"The United States invested a lot of effort in setting up this system in Gaza — construction, equipment, training… filings, the logistics, the transportation. It was a big operation, and it's now in the hands of the other side," said Efraim Halevy, who formerly headed both the Mossad, which is Israel's foreign-intelligence agency, and Israel's National Security Council. Mr. Halevy said, however, that he didn't want to overemphasize the value of Hamas's potential intelligence gains.

Avi Dichter, Israel's public-security minister and the former head of Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence-and-counterterrorism agency, also said he didn't want to overemphasize the potential benefits to Hamas. But he confirmed that the Islamist group seized Sigint technology and expertise during its Gaza sweep. He declined to provide specifics, but said it had been provided by the Americans, the British and the French.

[George Tenet]

Mr. Dichter, who left the Shin Bet when his five-year term as its chief ended in 2005, also said the potential damage goes beyond Hamas's ability to turn the technology against its enemies. Now, he said, the militants could gain an understanding of how such technology is used against them, allowing them to adopt more sophisticated counter measures.

"It's not only the tools. It's also the philosophy that's behind them," he said.

Hamas leaders are being vague about the equipment and technological know-how they captured. Mr. Hayya said some important former Fatah operatives in Gaza, all of whom were granted amnesty after Hamas took over, were now cooperating with the group on intelligence matters.

Easier to assess is the threat posed by the military hardware Hamas picked up after the takeover. The militant group seized an arsenal of arms and munitions captured from U.S.-backed security forces loyal to Fatah and its leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Dichter said Hamas gained roughly the same number of weapons during a few days that it would have taken the group nearly a year to amass from smuggling operations.

Hamas says it is using the armaments to build a popular army in Gaza. Israeli intelligence and security officials estimate the Islamist group has some 13,000 armed men in Gaza.

As for Fatah's secrets, Hamas leaders say they grabbed intelligence stashes from three locations: the headquarters in Gaza City of the Preventive Security Force; the Palestinian Authority intelligence headquarters, which were housed in a Gaza City office known as "Il Safina," or "the ship"; and a nearby satellite-intelligence office dubbed, "Il Mashtal," or "the nursery."

As Hamas fighters moved in during their June sweep across Gaza, Fatah officials burned some papers and stripped data from computers. But the Hamas conquest was so quick that significant caches remained for the taking, according to the militant group.

All three sites were long under the sway of Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who first became an important CIA ally in Gaza in 1996. At the time, then-CIA director George Tenet began working openly with Mr. Dahlan and other Palestinian officials to build up security services aimed at combating the rise of Hamas and like-minded extremist groups that rejected the Oslo peace accords.

Through a spokesman, Mr. Tenet declined to comment on the CIA-Fatah cooperation, his relationship with Mr. Dahlan or Hamas's gains. Mr. Dahlan on Thursday formally resigned his Palestinian Authority post. Mr. Dahlan hasn't commented publicly since resigning and he couldn't be located for comment. Associates in the West Bank said he was abroad.

Mr. Hayya, the senior Hamas leader, said hundreds of the group's Hamas's operatives have been culling through and analyzing the intelligence troves since their seizure, with specialists in security, forensic accounting and administration conducting detailed assessments. Significant portions of these assessments are close to completion, Mr. Hayya said.

Some of the most potentially explosive claims from Hamas center on the alleged activities beyond the Gaza Strip of Palestinian agents loyal to Fatah. Mr. Hayya alleged the CIA utilized Palestinian agents for covert intelligence operations in other Middle Eastern countries. Hamas, he said, now possesses a roadmap detailing the names and actions of "those men whom thought were going to continue to be their hand across the region."

Some former U.S. intelligence officials who worked closely with the Palestinian Authority confirmed that such overseas spying arrangements beyond Gaza existed with the Palestinians in the past and said they likely continued, bolstering the credibility of Hamas's claims.

Whitley Bruner, a longtime CIA officer in the Middle East, recalled that "some of our first really good information on [Osama] bin Laden in Sudan" in the early 1990s "came from Palestinian sources." Before leaving the agency in 1997, Mr. Bruner participated in many of the first cooperative sessions organized by Mr. Tenet between the CIA and the Palestinians.

"It's not unlikely that continued to do things for the U.S. well beyond the territories," Mr. Bruner said. "Palestinians are embedded all over the place, so they have access to things that the U.S. doesn't."

Others are more circumspect. Bruce Reidel, who worked for nearly 30 years as a U.S. Middle East specialist, both as a CIA intelligence officer and as an adviser to Presidents Clinton and Bush, said there is sure to be "quite a treasure trove of materials that would document relationship with the CIA." Mr. Reidel said during his time in government, which ended in 2005, "the Palestinians were always trying to prove that they had unique access and information," but he said he was skeptical of Hamas's claims that such operations ventured far beyond Gaza and the West Bank.

Mr. Hayya alleges that while many officials from Arab and Muslim nations knew Mr. Dahlan was cooperating with U.S. intelligence agencies inside the Palestinian territories, many of those same leaders "are going to be amazed and surprised when they discover had actually worked against them for the Americans." He wouldn't directly answer a question about which nations were allegedly being spied on, but he said Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had the most to be concerned about from potential disclosures.

Jabril Rajoub, a Fatah rival to Mr. Dahlan who was long his West Bank counterpart and most recently served as Mr. Abbas's national security adviser, said he was aware of the alleged outlines of these operations, though he said he was unaware of their details. He called the Gaza-based network a "for-hire" intelligence operation, adding that it was active around the Middle East and provided information to the Americans, the British and others.

Mr. Hayya also said there is a substantial amount of evidence detailing cooperation between Fatah and Israel. There is evidence several militant leaders were targeted as a result of such cooperation, he alleged. This includes circumstantial evidence that he was personally targeted in an Israeli assassination attempt after he was fingered by Fatah intelligence officers as a top security threat.

After taking over Gaza, Mr. Hayya said Hamas recovered notes from a meeting of senior Palestinian Authority intelligence officials in which they discussed Mr. Hayya's value to the Islamist group. On May 20, less than a week after the meeting, an Israeli missile was fired into his home, killing eight people. Mr. Hayya was en route at the time, but says the strike came about five minutes after his 35-year-old cousin, Ibrahim, entered the home. The Hamas leader said he and his cousin look very similar.

"They thought it was me," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Shin Bet declined to comment.

Comments (54)


ausamaa said:

WOW !!!!!!! And the OPPOSITION in Lebanon will inherit the same from the Siniora government when the time comes? Good!

August 1st, 2007, 5:26 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

The peace conference,that Rice is calling for,is a blatent conspiracy against HA and Iran, HA is the deterant force that prevent USA and Israel from attacking Iran.
Lebanon and Jordan must allow syrian troops so Syria can defend itself.
During this time,where USA and Israel continue to have hostile intentions against the arab,this is the time for the arab to unite in their effort to defend Syria,if not,then the arab leaders must go one after the other.

August 1st, 2007, 7:41 pm

 

Enlightened said:

ausamaa said:

WOW !!!!!!! And the OPPOSITION in Lebanon will inherit the same from the Siniora government when the time comes? Good!

Yes, So might the brotherhood in Syria with your line of thinking!

August 1st, 2007, 11:53 pm

 

Alex said:

: ) AUsamaa and Enlightened … did you notice how Syria and the M14 groups did not reach the stage of talking publicly about the detailed corrupt deals that both sides got into in Lebanon?

There is an understanding that stands even at times of war … these things do not get released to the public.

I think Hamas will show the info to Arab leaders and to any one who criticizes them in private. But they will only show in public the least offensive stories. The rest you will not hear about.

By the way, I heard that some of this stuff was quickly sent to Damascus for safety.

And I heard that if things get really bad .. we might see some of those sex videos leaked to You Tube.

August 2nd, 2007, 1:39 am

 

ausamaa said:

Alex, Can you appreciate how “Clever” the Syrian “regime” has been in Not publicizing the corruption details of the 14 Feb crowd of which I am sure they have warehouse full of such details and evidence. The Syrians must have known a whole whole lot about that, but they still are keeping it under wrap rather than expose “really” those “Lebanese” idols of Independecnce and Democratization in Lebanon.

The Syrians could have publicized some juicy stuff and caused upheavels in Lebanon and damaged the Feb 14 figures, but they are still keeping all that under the carpet! The Feb 14 would have sure said that all that was crap and fabrications and counter accused Syria (and for surem they have accused Syria of a lot), but they would have been thoroughly tainted. Unless, the Feb 14 gang have all been “innocent angles” all along.

That “is” Syria playing politics. Smartly.

August 2nd, 2007, 5:53 am

 

t_desco said:

Funny:

Michael Young: “An Aoun victory would indeed be a setback for those who oppose Syrian efforts to return to Lebanon … .

But another theory seems more credible, namely that Syria is looking to weaken Aoun …”.

(“Is Michel Aoun walking into a trap?”, The Daily Star, August 02, 2007)

😀

August 2nd, 2007, 6:42 am

 

youngSyria said:

“…That “is” Syria playing politics. Smartly” or maybe Feb 14 got “some juicy stuff ” and evidence on syria too.

Alex,
those videos would be too explicit for youtube and too disgusting to be viewed on porno sites.

August 2nd, 2007, 6:43 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex and Ausamma;

Lets be realistic; no one can claim the high moral ground when it comes to corruption and fighting corruption in the mmiddle east( I read an article today that when Jamil Assad died in Paris he left $5billion in various accounts ), Sure there is corruption but before anyone starts throwing stones at a particular party, one has to look at ones own backyard. There is rampant corruption in The PA, Syria, The gulf States, Egypt, even the moral Israelis with their institutions has isolated incidences of their politicians being corrupt. When it comes to corruption the Middle East, yes this is one area where we lead the world.

Corruption in the Lebanese state goes as far back to the days of independence, who ever took the keys to the Presidency also took the keys to the treasury, one example of this Zghorta in the North became a paradise according to many northerners simply because Sulemain Franjieh poured a lot of money into his town, while other areas of the North and particularly the South suffered.

On a side note in Australia when a politician gets elected he has to declare all his assets and pecuniary interests in a register, and is not allowed a portfolio, that might give rise to a conflict of interest.

On a side note you have to admire that Bashar, he has held on, I wouldnt call it smarts, but conditions have been favourable (the Puppet master as i am going to call him) has had some luck, a very inept opposition, an equally inept enemy (ies) and now the sensational intelligence capture by Hamas. I wonder what juicy tidbits will get released, here is a hunch what if all this corruption info gets into the hands of Hizbullah/Aoun would the Syrian leadership let them spill the beans? What if this also implicated Senior Syrian officials, which I am almost certain it would? Yes Alex there is an unwritten rule amongst thieves unfortunately.

When Saddam invaded Kuwait there were reports of a lot of sex tapes doing the rounds that were stolen from the Kuwaiti palaces, but alas there was no YOUTUBE then. Would have laughed seeing an Arab politician with his pants down!

August 2nd, 2007, 7:08 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened my friend

I said “both sides” no? : )

But corruption is one thing .. being caught coordinating with the Israelis helping them assassinate Palestinian Hamas figures, or spying for the Americnas against many Arab countries .. this is very serious … think for example how the Palestinians living in Egypt, KSA, and Jordan would become more suspicious now… Syria already has everything under close supervision anyway.

August 2nd, 2007, 7:16 am

 

Alex said:

I wonder which ones would be more disgusting … The Kuwaiti or Fatah sex tapes.

August 2nd, 2007, 7:17 am

 

Antoun said:

Alex, Enlightened, Ausamaa,

Just touching base with Enlightened’s comments that corruption has been embedded in Lebanon since independence, I sincerely doubt releasing any damaging material to the March 14 will have any effect.

The supporters of the March 14 alliance fully embrace the American-Israeli axis and are not ashamed of their government’s dealings with them. In addition, Lebanese (like most in the region) tend to be extremely devout to their local chieftains. They will search for any excuse to justify the most horrific actions of their zaims.

All in all, I’m not going to complain about Hamas’ finds. It comes as no surprise that Damascus and Tehran would’ve received the important faxes.

I think the questions should be asked, what can the Syrians learn from these revelations? At most, what damage can they do with it, apart from humiliating Fatah and perhaps the March 14 gang?

August 2nd, 2007, 8:53 am

 

Kamal said:

I agree with Enlightened – there is an unspoken agreement between the regime and the regime’s ex-puppets who ruled Lebanon under Syrian hegemony, to refrain from exposing each other’s corruption. This is because both sides have damaging evidence against the other, and in many cases, they were actual partners in corruption! All we will ever get is mutual accusations of corruption, without evidence – just as in the case of Khaddam vs Asad.

But let’s call things by their proper name, it’s not “M14” who are corrupt, it’s the Syrian-backed puppet elite that consisted of Hariri, Berri, Jumblat, Frangieh… Some of those have since joined the anti-Syrian freedom movement while others carry on in their role as faithful servants of Damascus. I have no more evidence than any of you, but in my estimation, the #1 most corrupt entity in Lebanon today is Nabih Berri’s Amal.

About the sex tapes, the above comments seem to imply they are tapes of Fatah thugs partying, but I was under the impression they were sexual-blackmail tapes. Say you want to assassinate a Hamas guy and you want his cousin to collaborate – you send the guy a prostitute to seduce him, secretly film the encounter, then threaten him with disseminating the tape unless he agrees to spill the beans on his cousin. Or, if you are really evil, you arrange and film a sexual assault of the guy’s sister and threaten to disseminate that if he doesn’t cooperate. This practise is not unheard of in the Middle East.

In other words, it’s not Fatah officials who appear in the tapes – am I mistaken?

August 2nd, 2007, 1:31 pm

 
 

t_desco said:

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions

TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order declaring a national emergency to deal with the threat in Lebanon posed by the actions of certain persons to undermine Lebanon’s legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions, to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation, to reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contributing to political and economic instability in that country and the region. Such actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

August 1, 2007.

August 2nd, 2007, 4:34 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Would the above Bush “thing” apply also to ISRAEL and the occupied Shebaa Farms?

August 2nd, 2007, 6:05 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Threat on the dollar
The US is discovering that they can be a much better nuisance to countries or groups opposing them ( Iran, Syria, Hezbollah) by playing on their presumed power: the Banks, the dollars and Investments in the US. This will backfire on the dollar as already Iran is moving more of its assets to euros, get payed for oil in euros and most Iranian banks under US boycott (Sepah and Saderat) are switching to euro and it won’t be long before in view of the falling dollar, KSA and gulf countries will switch to euro. The dollar has already lost 40% of its value versus the euro since the euro was created. This new US policy may affect the dollar even more, allowing a better trade of US goods but weakening the flow of foreign investments… On long term a very dangerous game.

August 2nd, 2007, 7:00 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

WHY-DISCUSS,

The U.S. Foreign exchange policy is to let free markets determine the value of the Dollar. Close to two Trillion Dollars trade in the open market daily. It is the decisions of traders, investors, corporate treasurers, central bank reserve managers that ultimately decide the value of the currency in free and open markets. A lower Dollar will ultimately mean that the U.S. will pay back its Asian creditors with a lower currency. Free markets tend to do their magic in calibrating the correct value of currencies and securities. Nothing suggests that the recent trend of the Dollar has entered a so-called dangerous zone. The recent trend of switching reserves into the Euro has had some impact. With a daily turnover of 2 Trillion, it clearly cannot be a significant enough factor.

August 2nd, 2007, 7:24 pm

 

t_desco said:

Nicholas Blanford’s article on Bilal Mahmoud/Abu Jandal (“Tripoli Police Bullets Create a Martyr”, TIME, May 27, 2007) omitted some important facts.

Some days ago Abu Jandal’s name popped up when his brother-in-law was involved in a shooting incident in Tripoli (they later found a large amounts of dollars and forged documents at his house), so I tried to find more information on him.

It turns out that Bilal Mahmoud’s brother Khaled Mahmoud who like Bilal belonged to the Dinniyeh group had been arrested some months earlier because of links to Fatah al-Islam:

“The Lebanese army intelligence arrested a young individual, Khaled Mahmud, who belongs to the group of “Deniyeh”. Mahmud was linked to “Fateh Al-Islam” group. He tried to blow up a bomb targeting the patrol of the Lebanese army that came to arrest him.”
(“Fateh Al-Islam”, an unachieved journey to “Al Qaeda” organization and an ambiguous link with “Fatah-Intifada”, Hazem al-Amin, Al-Hayat, 28/03/07; for a critique of this article, see Gary C. Gambill’s “The Rise of Fatah al-Islam”, Mideast Monitor, June/July 2007).

The As-Safir article on Abu Jandal’s funeral (25/05/2007) confirms this information and mentions a second brother, “Muhammad” (Abu Thabit), who was killed in the clashes between Fatah and the Dinniyeh group in Ain al-Hilweh in August 2002. Bernard Rougier gives his name as “Ahmad al-Mahmud (Abu Thabit)” (“Everyday Jihad” p.259, 312n25).

According to Hazem al-Amin’s article, the “Independent Islamic Gathering” was in contact with Fatah al-Islam. The spokesman for the Dinniyeh prisoners, Ihab al-Banna, is also active in the “Independent Islamic Gathering”, according to a recent Al-Akhbar article which speculated that they gave encouragement and support to Fatah al-Islam.

According to Bernard Rougier, Ihab al-Banna was the liaison between the Dinniyeh group and Usbat al-Ansar:

“After Basim al-Kanj left for the United States in 1995, Ahmad al-Qassam appointed people close to him to develop ties with Abu Mahjin’s group. … Ihab al-Banna … also went back and forth between Ain al-Helweh and the capital to maintain ties with Usbat al-Ansar. After Ahmad al-Qassam was executed in 1997 for the assassination of Shaykh al-Halabi, Basim al-Kanj, who was now settled in Beirut, asked Ihab al-Banna to become the main liaison with Ain al-Helweh. Banna went to the camp at least once a month to give religion lessons to Abu Ubayda …”.
(Bernard Rougier, “Everyday Jihad”, p.235).

Yes, that is the “Abu Obeida” of the first Mehlis report.

August 2nd, 2007, 8:11 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Well basically in theory the markets decide the value of USD, but in reality the central banks, made agreements (like OPEC selling oil only in dollars) and politics put “limits” to this free market pricing.

USA’s economical (and military) power has based a long time that dollar has been and still is the world currency. But there are many clear signs that the era of dollar’s domination is ending. China and Russia have “an aircraft carrier fleet” in form of their enormous currency reserves.

A lower Dollar will ultimately mean that the U.S. will pay back its Asian creditors with a lower currency.

Hmmm that is true from the viewpoint of creditors. From the viewpoint of American taxpayers it is not true if there doesn’t also exist a “healthy” inflation. One should remember the old economical wisdom: Governmental debts are deferred taxes.

The other problem is with what is USA going to pay back the debts. A lower dollar makes USA products more competitive abroad. But what are these US products? Much of USA’s former production capacity has been transferred already to Asia.

—-
This Bush’s executive order of Lebanon’s “democracy” is rather amusing. USA should have such orders with tens of countries, if it is the question of democracy. Also the way how USA uses its private economy in its foreign policy is in the end only damaging to her self. Nowadays many other can also provide technology, capital, weapon systems etc.

A rather funny story how USA has tried to control the world, is this Russian North Pole expedition. The used submarines were built in Finland during the end of Soviet time. Soviet Union asked several western companies could they deliver deep sea exploration subs. USA forbid several companies to make them. How ever Pentagon allowed a Finnish company (former Rauma-Repola Oceanics) to design and make such subs, because they thought Finns could not build it. Finns used special steel instead of titanium which was normally used in such subs. Pentagon and CIA went completely mad and forced Rauma Repola to end its lucrative sub business. Hmmmm free trade in a democratic world. 🙂

August 2nd, 2007, 9:24 pm

 

ausamaa said:

BUSH and the new PROTECT “his” Lebanon ACT!

My God. Things are turning personal now it seems. The Bush new “thing” to protect his part of Lebanon mentions PERSONS. Not OFFICIALS mind you, but PERSONS. This “thing” may apply to me and many others including jornalists, think-tanks, Israelies, Syrians, Indonisians, Bulgarians and all.

Shoot, I am going to have to watch out how I phrase my remarks about Lebanon and the Siniora gang, oooops, government, from now on or else suffer the risk of having my assets or property in the States confiscated by the Bush Admin. And then I will have to find a good lawyer and file a case against Bush for violating some Amendments of the US constitution. A Class Action thing seems promising! But again, his lawyers can easily get him off by claiming something like “Temporary Insanity” or like that he committed whatever he committed while he was “Under the Influence” of…. Syria!

When is he due to leave by the way?

August 2nd, 2007, 9:25 pm

 

Alex said:

“persons”?? .. are we now to feel threatened if we dare to express our lack of respect to the Seniora government?

Joshua, you are in trouble. If I were you I would start by apologizing to Michael Young. He is one of the heroes of the Lebanese democracy lovers and … you know, you have a house in Oklahoma.

I wonder if we are allowed to criticize Tony Badran.

We failed to export to the Arabs our American Democracy. Instead, we succeeded in importing to America more and more of their authoritarian way of doing things.

After monitoring phone calls and emails, now this threat to “persons” makes it almost as risky as trying to communicate in a country like Syria or Saudi Arabia in a way the government does not approve of.

These actions give me reasons to worry. They are not logical, but bitter and revengeful. Nothing good can come out of such state of mind.

Give us back the America of pre-2000

August 2nd, 2007, 10:28 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Pro-Syria summer camp starts in Golan

A pro-Syria summer camp for Druse children has started on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, it was reported on Thursday.

Syrian flags could be seen in the footage, aired by Channel Two, and children were heard proudly singing the Syrian national anthem.

The kids were seen split into small groups where they expressed their dedication to what they called their “homeland.”

“Syria will remain free,” they chanted.

The children spoke of how they aspired to return to Syria and visit their families. They said their “souls” were connected to Syria.

Head of the Druse community in the Golan, Fazi Abu Jabal, said that that the children considered Syria as their country. “It is close to the children’s hearts,” he said.

In the camp, each tent is named after a different Syrian village captured by Israel.

There were also sections of the summer camp shown draped with Palestinian and Lebanese flags, dedicated to Druse who identified with the two respective causes.

“We want to free Arab Palestine,” children were heard chanting.

Channel Two reported that the camp’s organizers were attempting to raise money to set up similar camps in other Druse areas of the Golan.

Seems that the Druse children prefer their Homeland before the “only democracy” in Middle East. Interesting to see if G. Bush confiscates the children’s pocket money for undermining Israel’s democratic process.

August 2nd, 2007, 10:44 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex,

In order to be in violation of this executive order you have to be deemed as a person who is working to “undermine Lebanon’s legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions, to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation, to reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty contribute to political and economic instability in that country and the region and constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

I think that you are okay, unless you are up to things I don’t know about.

August 2nd, 2007, 10:59 pm

 

Alex said:

Ehsani, I was being sarcastic. I assume I am ok, thanks.

But others, can “violate” only one of the vague parts that you listed above rather easily … “to contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon” … are you sure this will surely not include opinion pieces written by a Syrian journalist who is totally opposed to the Seniora government?

Violence is only one of the things listed .. that implies that there are many other ways you could be considered a contributor to the bad luck of the Seniora government. Can you tell me what are the other scenarios the president referred to?

I am sure you are familiar with the equally vague laws Syria uses to put a few of its opposition leaders in jail…. contributing to instability (through what they write or say) … damaging the people’s confidence? … I can’t remember, but reading president Bush’s words above quickly reminded me of our Syrian ways.

August 2nd, 2007, 11:12 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

I think that this is part of Bush’s strategy to make it hard for the next Administration to change policy abruptly. Such orders are not easy to reverse in a hurry.

Are they learning from our Syrian way? It sure seems like it. Given how effective it has worked, I am sure the temptation is hard to resist

August 2nd, 2007, 11:16 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

The order says :as determined by secretary of treasury and state,if a person is contributing to syrian interference in lebanon,including his wife or children.
this includes Alex and many others

August 3rd, 2007, 12:52 am

 

why-discuss said:

I expect there will be some kind of retaliation to his ‘democratic’ way of punishing opponents to US democratisation dreamt. I guess lots of money is going to move from the US banks to Dubai or swiss banks soon…if it is not already done.

August 3rd, 2007, 4:22 am

 

t_desco said:

So “anonymous sources” don’t always tell the truth…?

Mise au point de l’ambassade d’Espagne

Dans notre manchette de l’édition datée du 31 juillet, il était écrit que le ministre espagnol des Affaires étrangères, Miguel Angel Moratinos, avait dit à certains de ses interlocuteurs au Liban que Madrid disposait d’informations selon lesquelles la Syrie aurait « joué un rôle » dans l’attentat du 24 juin contre le contingent espagnol de la Finul, au Liban-Sud.
L’Orient-Le Jour tenait cette affirmation d’une source de la majorité, citée dans la manchette en question.
L’ambassade d’Espagne à Beyrouth nous a fait parvenir une mise au point selon laquelle cette affirmation « ne correspond pas à la réalité ».
« À aucun moment (…) M. Moratinos n’a fait cette déclaration durant son séjour au Liban », ajoute l’ambassade.
(L’Orient-Le Jour, 03 août 2007)

(my emphasis)

August 3rd, 2007, 5:28 am

 

Enlightened said:

Antoun; Kamal

Both of you are right, because corruption is so endemic within the state, and its institutions (Syria as well), people have come to expect this and publicizing it will have no effect, because the population has become accustomed to this. You will only see an outcry when the ripple effect of corruption no longer filters down to them.

Watch out boys looks like Mr Bush is on to you. I can just see Alex and Ausamma quaking in their boots, furthermore there is a secret software out there picking up any anti Lebanese Government or M14 writings or slogans, and is all part of the New Bush plan to further support Democracy and its Ideals that he plainly practices.

I must say though that I am a bit dissapointed in Mr Bush! Well when he was handing out weapons to his favourite allies in the Middle East that my beloved Lebanon did not get one bullet in the announcement! $30 Billion to Israel, $13 billion to Egypt, $20 billion to The Gulf and KSA, yes gentleman democracy and freedom can only be spread down the Barrel of a M16 or delivered precisely through Laser guided munitions. Now how can we defend our hard fought independence and democracy if we cant lob a few shells or bullets over the Border? and scare those pesky Syrians? No no sanctions wont work , nor freezing Assets, nor isolation or diplomatic indifference!

Yes I like this new found love for Lebanon that Mr Bush has discovered, Ill let you all in on a secret, George Junior was visiting his daddy for dinner and he was reminding him how he sold the country for a dime during his presidency, how he let The Kurds suffer after Gulf War 1, and how he left that pesky Saddam in power, and he must right all wrongs that Daddy committed, Furthermore it is Imperative that Lebanon must become the 53rd state of the Union, that is the next resolution!

Sorry all feeling a little bit jaded today!

August 3rd, 2007, 5:35 am

 

Alex said:

Doooooon’t worry. Luckily, we are all insignificant observers : )

According to Alhayat today, this is primarily intended to discourage anyone who wants to go against the choices of the US-backed Seniora government in the crucial next few weeks and months.

Theoretically, Michel Aoun should be target number one. No?

August 3rd, 2007, 6:52 am

 

t_desco said:

OMG, how on earth could I have missed this?

August 3rd, 2007, 7:18 am

 

ausamaa said:

The more one thinks about it the more confused you can get.

A PRESEDENTIAL order referring to the Siniora Government as the “Democratically Elected”, despite the fact that it is appointed and not Elected. Does this “Man” have blinders on? Can he be conned that easily by his so-called advisors? Does he not read? Ok, the message is “I am a tough guy”, but what actual benifits it brings anyone when your side is not re-assured and when the other side is not even interested in what you say or do? Has Feltman also conned Bush as Abrams have been doing for years?

What a picture:

The cute little doll Condi is touring the Middle East to do what?

-To tell “her” Arab friends: we are going to be leaving soon so be ready?
– To follow up on the implementation on a certain plan concocted about a year or so ago? If so, what the hell is that plan, and why do we only see signs of its failure from Iraq to Lebanon to Syria to Iran to Gaza?
– To launch a new plan? To prepare for a new plan? Like what for example? “We will hit Iran”, so be ready for the fallout? I doubt it. It takes a lot more courage, determination and originality than the Bush Admin had shown so far.
– To prevent -or delay- an expected collapse of the toothless “moderate” Arab front? To say help us or else..? And what can they really do to help her?
– To belittle the falloutout from an emerging “Unbeatable” Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah and to say: They appeare to be standing up to us, but we are gonna take of them? And You, as well?
– To lobby Israel to show some concessions and then to come sit at the Peace Table next to the Saudis and other Arabs? Impossible when Syria says NO, and when half the Palestinians say NO and when Lebanon is not there. The occupied lands belong to those three not to the Saudis or the others.

It is just so confusing. The Bush and Condi acts. Thirty billion dollars to Israel and twenty billions to certain Arab states (the Israeli deal can pass congress anytime, the Arab one can be blocked by Congress anytime. Now or later). Bush and Condi WANT something. Why else would they portray themselves in such “generous” mood? Is it perhaps a domestically-instigated Defense-lobby deal to make use of the moment and sell arms to the Arabs? It is not beyond the establishment. Is the Sly DC salesman trying to make, book in advance, or pocket some money and favors before they departs DC and a new Admin takes over? Are they just milking again their Arab Friends and making it appear as if they are helping them?

Or is it a totally confused, immoral and accountable-to-no-one gang of nicely-dressed, English-speaking DC thugs trying with their local-hands to take everyone for a ride while time allows it?

Is this what Democracy can produce sometimes under the guise of an ill-defined National Interest? Or is it like in Absolute power corrupts Absolutely? Or is it just a nightmare called Sleazy Neo-cons, Beneficiaries & Co.?

Is America still around by any chance?

August 3rd, 2007, 8:19 am

 

youngsyria said:

في حادثة غير مسبوقة “قراصنة” يستولون على موقع وزارة الكهرباء وينشرون رسالة ” استنكار” فيه

http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=59241

http://moelec.gov.sy/page.php

August 3rd, 2007, 8:25 am

 
 

ausamaa said:

Nice act. We are progressing. The Ministry “has” a website, for what I dont know, and we have hackers? So, we are getting somewhere despite US “sanctions”!

Nice again. Keeps everyone on their toes.

August 3rd, 2007, 8:35 am

 

ausamaa said:

A skip back in time to Oct 2005:

Guys, as the weekend is drawing near and we might have more free moments on our hands, why do we not revisit history? Can you remember the good ol’ days when certain “good” people were falling overthemselves giving credence to such possibilities???????

Will Assad Save Himself by Going the Way of Qaddafi?

From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 223 Updated by DEBKAfile

October 4, 2005, 10:20 AM (GMT+02:00)

Collecting the clincher on Assad`s aides` culpability at the MTC mobile phone offices

How to save Syrian president Bashar Assad and his regime from toppling – or rather how to save him from himself? This was the main topic exercising Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdullah when they put their heads together in Riyadh Monday Oct. 3. They needed to talk urgently because the UN investigator of the Hariri assassination Detlev Mehlis reported to the UN secretary general Kofi Annan and the Security Council that he has finished his business in Damascus and would not be returning. He had gathered all the evidence he needs to indict two of Assad’s close kinsmen, his brother Maher, head of the presidential guard brigade, and brother-in-law, Assef Shawqat, who is married to his sister Bushra, for involvement in the assassination plot against the Lebanese leader.

The clincher was obtained, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, in a Lebanese security forces swoop on the MTC Touch mobile phone company in Beirut Sept. 27. (This network is owned by Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunications Co.) The officers copied data from eight telephone lines and took several employes away for questioning. These lines were allegedly used by Maher Assad, Assef Shawqat and two Syrian strongmen, Syrian interior minister Gen. Ghazi Kenaan and director of Syrian Special Intelligence Gen. Rusoum Ghazaleh, and other Syrian intelligence officers for contacts with their Lebanese accomplices who staged the bombing-shooting attack in Beirut last February. These accomplices set up a headquarters in the Hamara district in two apartments. Four senior Lebanese security officers are also in detention over the crime.

In September, as the noose tightened around the neck of Assad’s nearest and dearest, Saudi king Abdullah and Mubarak rushed into rescue mode.

On September 23, DEBKA-Net-Weekly revealed:

The Saudi monarch is bidding for President George W. Bush to give the Syrian president another chance. He is offering a Saudi-Egyptian guarantee for Assad to live up to any obligations he may be persuaded to undertake.

The scheme as put before Bush is embryonic. Neither side has accepted it. The Saudi ruler proposes to permit the Syrian president to tread the same path as Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi in 2003, when he scrapped his weapons of mass destruction in return for admittance to Washington’s good graces.

The Assad version, if accepted, would consist of severing the links between the Damascus political and military elite and Iraqi Baathist insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Top Saudi and Egyptian intelligence counter-terror experts would help the Damascus regime get rid of the terrorist elements which have struck root in Syria.

The banking systems of Syria and Lebanon will halt the flow of moneys from Saddam Hussein’s Baathists and al Qaeda accounts to bankroll the Iraqi insurgency. Like Libya, Syria would dismantle its chemical and biological weapons and its nuclear program, as well as its WMD-capable missiles.

Damascus would help America disband the Lebanese Hizballah terrorist organization, mainly by blocking Syrian arms supplies and providing Washington with intelligence on Hizballah’s arms caches. Damascus would also shut down the command centers, offices and the training facilities serving Palestinian terror groups in Syria for decades. This would entail the jihadist Hamas and Jihad Islami and the radical Palestinian “Fronts” losing their sanctuaries.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources, the Saudi ruler has assured US officials he will insist on Assad going public on these steps for the sake of his rehabilitation – although easing into them gradually.

The quid pro quo proposed by Riyadh and Cairo is a halt on US and international pressure on the Syrian regime to mend its ways, the suspension foAmerican economic sanctions and the resumption of economic assistance in the framework of a generous US-Saudi aid package to build a modern economy. Washington would have to lean hard on Ariel Sharon, or whoever succeeds him as Israeli prime minister, for peace talks culminating in the withdrawal from the Golan – on the same lines as the pull-back from Gaza and prospective evacuations of the West Bank.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington and Middle East sources report that the Bush administration has gone no further than cautiously considering the Saudi-Egyptian blueprint and discussing it. All the same, some parties, especially Saudi and Egyptian officials, are pushing hard to present Washington’s U-turn on Damascus as an accomplished fact.

(|End of DEBKA-Net-Weekly passage)

DEBKAfile adds: One of the parties keen on getting the Saudi-Egyptian plan off the ground leaked to the media Monday, the day Mubarak flew to Riyadh, that US officials had been testing Jerusalem’s preference for Assad’s successor. Israeli officials are reported to have said that Assad could stay – as long as he was “weakened.” This leak sounds like a ploy to convey the impression that the Egyptian-Saudi rescue blueprint is in the bag and has even found acceptance in Jerusalem. This is most improbable – especially since, according to our sources in Damascus, Assad is far from seizing the Qaddafi formula for changing his spots. There are serious obstacles to be overcome first.

1. He is still haggling on terms, guarantees for his regime’s durability and which cronies can be saved from prosecution by the UN Hariri inquiry.

2. Assad has developed more than one lifeline. In addition to the Saudi-Egyptian rescue plan, he is cozying up to Moscow and to Tehran for an escape or counter-gambit against the US-French drive to bring him down and the UN investigator’s findings. Some of the ideas floated between Damascus, Tehran and Moscow, might be of concern to Washington, US forces in Iraq and Israel. DEBKAfile will reveal these plans shortly.

3. The Syrian ruler’s fate hangs heavily on the final report Mehlis submits on the Hariri case. If he goes right to the top and assigns culpability to the president in person, not even the Saudi-Egyptian effort can save him. But if the finger of accusation stops at his close aides – such as his brother and brother-in-law, or lower echelons such as Generals Kenaan and Ghazale, Assad will hold the option of throwing them to the wolves and jumping aboard the rescue wagon.

4. He would have to be pretty nimble for this desperate ploy. The men he proposes to sacrifice might well have other plans, such as mounting a military coup to topple him to save themselves.

The Article Ends. So do many other things!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 3rd, 2007, 10:23 am

 

youngsyria said:

ausamaa, dont underestimate us.. 🙂

August 3rd, 2007, 10:31 am

 

MSK said:

Syria: No Subsidence of Subsidies

Oxford Business Group

30 July 2007

http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/weekly01.asp?id=3092

Syria is to allocate $7bn in its budget for 2008 to subsidise energy, basic commodities and food supplies, further increasing the drain on the treasury at the very time the country is trying to implement reforms to ease the state out of the marketplace.

On July 23, Abdulla Al Dardari, the deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said the government was committed to protecting the Syrian people and their standard of living through the provision of subsidies.

Al Dardari said that the subsidies would be “distributed effectively among citizens, affirming the government’s commitment to delivering support to deserving groups”.

The government will also keep its promise to provide free education and health services, with funding to be made available in the 2008 budget, Al Dardari said.

If the Syrian government does follow through on its spending commitments, it will face a massive increase in its outlays in the coming year, expenditures it may find hard to support. With much of the country’s agricultural industry reporting poor harvests due to drought, the key cotton and wheat sectors in particular being hard hit, export earnings and tax revenues are expected to be down this year.

The $7bn in subsidies represent a major increase in spending by the state. By comparison, the 2006 budget set aside just $500m for subsidy payments for basic foodstuffs, electricity and fuel, according to a report by the US embassy in Damascus. Analysts doubted the accuracy of these figures, believing they did not reflect the full extent of the subsidies being distributed. A US government report issued in early 2006 suggested fuel subsidies alone would amount to $1bn for the year. However, none of the estimates made at the time came close to the 2008 total announced by the deputy prime minister.

With Syria’s gross domestic product currently estimated at around $38bn, the figure announced by Al Dardari represents over 20% of GDP, well up on the 15% given in an International Monetary Fund report issued in early 2006.

However, while committing the state to boosting subsidy payments, Al Dardari also flagged an overhaul of the system.

“Any new aid system will be gradual to eliminate economic and social shocks and achieve tangible improvement in living standards for the majority of Syrians,” he said.

Another to raise the issues of subsidies was President Bashar Al Assad. In his address to the parliament on July 17, when formally being sworn in for his second term as head of state, Al Assad said that one of the government’s main priorities was the economy and reducing the role played by the state in it.

However, while having touted the measures taken by the government to open up the economy and to reform its infrastructure, the president was less forthcoming about ending or reducing the levels of subsidies handed out. The repeated talk of the state ending subsidies or preparing to do so was “either misleading, rumour or indicates a lack of knowledge,” he said.

Only if a resolution was passed by the United Nations’ Security Council would the role of the state change and the programme of subsidies be ended, Al Assad said.

Much of the state’s subsidies goes to the country’s agriculture industry, aiming to keep down the price of basic foods such as wheat used in bread and pasta. These subsidies come in both the form of cheap fuel and in direct payments to primary producers.

President Al Assad said the government was committed to maintaining its support for the sector.

“One of our priorities will be to provide the agricultural sector with the requirements of growth and to fend off negative impacts from this sector because of its vitality to the Syrian economy and its importance to our food sufficiency and national security,” he told the parliament.

Other funds are dedicated to ensuring a cheap supply of electricity to both industry and households, while the figure is also inflated by support to marginal or unprofitable state enterprises.

With regard to state enterprises, in his July 17 address, the president was more forceful in his intent to implement change and reduce the burden on the exchequer.

“Many decisions have been made to develop the public sector and address its production, management and financial issues with the objective of ridding it of the impediments which limit its capacity to compete,” he said. “There are new steps which will be taken in the near future in order to rectify the conditions of the industrial public sector.”

Syria may want to reduce the role of the state in the economy but as yet there are some steps it cannot take, due to the political unpopularity of cutting subsidies and the need to provide the wherewithal for the country’s people to survive if not yet prosper. Price support and subsidies appear set to remain on the Syrian scene for a long time to come.

August 3rd, 2007, 11:12 am

 

Observer said:

EHSANI2 I have a question for you. Can you explain the decision by Nixon in 1973 to disengage the dollar from the gold exchange and since oil and other major commodities are traded in dollars effectively making it the reserve currency of the rest of the world thereby insuring a forced buying of many countries of us dollars that fuel the economy; and can you explain why the first order of business of Paul Bremer was to switch the Iraqi oil transactions away from the Euro and back to the dollar. Finally, I know of one European company that wanted to create a bus business in the US and it was told that the buses in the US have to be 60% manufactured in the US and therefore they could not operate the better and more efficient buses.
When it comes to so called free markets it is usually a one way street for US corporations. In areas of tool manufacturing or in internet server control I know for a fact that the US does not want any free market BS going on. In software, the US still controls 97% of the market and they would not allow for true and free competition. In aircraft industry, it is a subsidized industry and in agriculture every cow receives more than 300 dollars per year. If it were for free trade, the american farmers do not stand a chance. This is why the DOHA round of talks collapsed. Now I am no economic expert, but I read the WSJ almost daily and I can tell you there is no such thing as free markets and free trade.

August 3rd, 2007, 4:08 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear OBSERVER,

I am not fully aware of the cases that you have cited, but I will take your word for it. The U.S. may indeed not practice the purest form of free markets and capitalism. I wish they did. While the American system is not perfect, it sure has proved to be one of the most enduring and powerful systems when it comes to creating wealth and ensuring high standards of living for its citizens. The underpinnings of the U.S. economic philosophy are a belief in free markets. While there are exceptions, the various economic agents in the system do indeed compete and act in an open and largely free marketplace. I am not sure what Nixon’s decision has to do with this discussion. Nixon either had to live with significantly higher interest rates or to abandon the Dollar peg. He chose the latter. For the record, 8 years later rates did indeed have to rise significantly under Volcker’s Fed. The Dollar’s decoupling from gold caused its value to drop by 53%. The subsequent rise in US rates caused it to rally all the way back. Cyclical weakness in the U.S. economy and the lower rates that ensued saw it drop back to new lows in the mid 90’s. Increased productivity and the stock market rally of the 1990’s caused the currency to rally back significantly (the Euro was as low as 0.85). We are now witnessing a weaker cycle for the Dollar. This is consistent with its history since 1971. During its fall and inevitable subsequent rise, the US economy has grown and prospered by more than most of its peers.

August 3rd, 2007, 4:57 pm

 

t_desco said:

So it has been officially confirmed that Ahmed Abu Adass’ friend Khaled Midhat Taha is an al-Qa’ida operative and that Adass also knew other members of the al-Qa’ida cell!

Nibras Kazimi posted a good summary of the Al-Hayat article on his blog back in April:

“Saturday, April 07, 2007

Six Degrees of Terrorism: Tentative Link Between Zarqawi’s Al-Qaeda and the Hariri Assassination

Today, Al-Hayat printed the full text of a Lebanese governmental report on an Al-Qaeda cell that was arrested early last year. This report, apparently released yesterday, reinforced and corroborated a tantalizing yet still tentative assertion that placed Zarqawi’s Al-Qaeda behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri over two years ago.

This is my condensed version of the report, followed by what I had written about this cell in the past:

Recruitment: Hassan Muhammad Nab’a, (Lebanese, Born 1981. AKA ‘Muhammad Said Mneimneh’, ‘Ramzi Khalil Hassan’, ‘Sheikh Rashid’. Later designated Emir of this Al-Qaeda affiliate group. He was also associated with the Dhiniyeh clashes in northern Lebanon in 2000, and had gone into hiding in Syria); was recruited by two persons connected to Al-Qaeda: ‘Jamil’, (Syrian from Homs, Al-Qaeda facilitator); and by Faisal Asa’ad Akbar (Syrian, AKA ‘Fahad Muhammad Hassan Al-Khadim Al-Yamani’, ‘Abdel-Ghani Walid Faris’, ‘Hassan Nassir Isa’. Pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in late 1999, then pledged allegiance to Abu Musa’ab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, and was tasked by the latter to go back to Syria and recruit for Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and then tasked with conducting terrorist operations in Lebanon and Syria).

Hassan Nab’a sent ‘Jamil’ to Lebanon to recruit his brother, Malik Nab’a. Malik Nab’a recruited Khalid Midhat Taha (Palestinian resident in Lebanon. AKA ‘Muhammad Ali Safadi’, ‘Ghassan Said Khalil’) who later went and pledged allegiance to Hassan Nab’a in Syria. Taha recruited Hani Hashim al-Shenti (Naturalized Lebanese of Palestinian origin) who also went to Syria and pledged allegiance to Hassan Nab’a. Taha was the alleged recruiter and handler of Ahmad Abu Ades who took responsibility, in a video released by a terrorist organization, for the Hariri assassination on February 14, 2005.

At one point after the Hariri assassination, Hassan Nab’a, Faisal Akbar, and Khalid Taha were living in the same apartment in the Ein al-Rummaneh district of Beirut.

The chief characters in this cell are Hassan Nab’a, Faisal Akbar, Hani al-Shenti and Tariq Raja al-Nassir (Syrian neurosurgeon. AKA ‘Abdel-Salam Abdel-Wahab Khudayir’). All of them, as well as several other associates, are in Lebanese custody. Other important players such as Khalid Taha and ‘Jamil’ still at large, as well as some others listed in the report.

They are not being charged with anything to do with the Hariri assassination. They are being held for being members of Al-Qaeda, hoarding weapons, rockets and explosives, and plotting to target a Lebanese sect—most likely the Shi’as.

Abu Ades is connected to Khalid Taha, who is connected to Malik Nab’a, who was recruited by ‘Jamil’, who had recruited Hassan Nab’a, who was linked to Abu Musa’ab al-Zarqawi directly through Faisal Akbar. Count them: six degrees of separation! (But how is Kevin Bacon involved in all of this?)

Now it’s official: the Lebanese Prosecutor’s Office has linked Ahmad Abu Adas to an Al-Qaeda cell. …”
Talisman Gate

August 3rd, 2007, 5:42 pm

 

Sami D said:

Ehsani2 wrote: “The U.S. may indeed not practice the purest form of free markets and capitalism. I wish they did. While the American system is not perfect, it sure has proved to be one of the most enduring and powerful systems when it comes to creating wealth and ensuring high standards of living for its citizens. The underpinnings of the U.S. economic philosophy are a belief in free markets.”

Dear Ehsani2

ALL advanced countries of today developed and prospered thanks to policies that are the exact opposite of free market: tariffs & subsidies. This is especially true for the US and England, the champions of the free market. Let’s not forget that US prosperity of recent years also involves monopoly on the limited resources of the world, where 5% of world population (Americans) consume 5 times their share. That’s not simply due to the free market; it’s directly proportional to the number of aircraft carriers, jet fighters, submarines, bombs, cruise missiles, nuclear umbrellas across the globe, space domination, the US has. Not to mention “inheriting” from the native Americans a continent of virgin land filled with resources.

The free market, while it can indeed energize production, it also yields massive inequalities, monopolies, environmental depletion, materialism, consumerism, speculation/gambling, greed, commodification of everything, waste, pollution and high instability in the stock market. Not to mention empire. No, these are not mere “imperfections” of capitalism; to many –most- people they mean devastation and death.

That’s why there’s no real, or close to real free market capitalism anywhere, except in textbooks and the few minds of US Libertarians. Reagan, one champion of the recent economic liberalism era, for example, was one of the most protectionist presidents in recent history. He must know something that he’s not saying out loud. The US high tech world –electronics, internet, transistors, computers, fiber optics, communication systems, airplanes– not too long ago the first in the world, was all developed thanks to massive government subsidies, especially via the Pentagon system, i.e. military Keynesianism.

Free market ideas, however, are useful to ram down the throat of third world countries, for example Bremer in Iraq, to keep them behind and to make sure they fulfill a service function to the developed world. They are useful to pit US workers against the slave-wages of sweat-shop workers in el-Salvadore, while CEOs “make” 500 times the average worker income. Free market ideas are also useful as a weapon to cut taxes for the rich.

August 3rd, 2007, 8:11 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear SAMI D,

I do not want to defend the U.S. I very much want to defend capitalism and free markets. You claim “5% of world population (Americans) consume 5 times their share”. Given the massive trade deficit that the country runs, think about how many people in the world survive on exporting to the U.S. market. Wal-Mart is China’s largest importer. Surely, U.S. prosperity has ripple effects around the world. When the U.S. economy catches cold all emerging market is instantly affected. Prosperity at the U.S. did not land from Mars. It has been the result of sound economic and monetary policy. Blaming the U.S. for the world’s ills is easy. You can hate the country’s foreign policy all you want. But, to attack the foundations of its economic system does not strike me as sound logic. Reading your comment, it is clear that we come from two different worlds when it comes to our economic philosophy. I may have been in your camp during my first two years of college in the leftist leaning UK at the time. It did not take me long to ditch that and move to what I now consider the right camp. I will be rooting for you to do the same one day.

August 3rd, 2007, 8:35 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

The underpinnings of the U.S. economic philosophy are a belief in free markets.

Do as I command you to do but do not do as I do. A rather strange economic philosophy. Seems that U.S.A has an equal attitude with its political philosophy and the definition of democracy.

One good example of free trade demands and the contradiction between what we do are the World Banks efforts to privatize the water supply in underdeveloped countries. Even in USA and Europe water supply is mostly run by the society. Only an idiot (or an extreme believer) would think that a private profit seeking company would invest enormous sums to build a good infrastructure and be satisfied in a price which would be comparative to what we westerns pay (for example 0.5 percent of income). The only way private companies invest in such privatizations is a local water monopoly and the experiments have mostly been disastrous to local people, but not for the companies.

USA and Europe developed their economies behind customs barriers, using state owned companies, profiting from colonies (= loyal generals selling raw material with laughable prices), substitutes etc. And that is a fact. One doesn’t be a leftist to believe that a complete jump to free trade is not a medicine for underdeveloped countries. I am a liberal rightist and I was that also during the first years in college. 🙂

As I had said before if the minimum state regulation and free trade would a fast path to a wealthy society then the African nations where there are de facto zero taxes, no laws and free trade would be the top nations. Are they?

August 3rd, 2007, 10:16 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Simohurtta,

The rule of law is a critical element of free markets and capitalism. Surely, they must have covered that at your liberal rightist school.

August 3rd, 2007, 10:41 pm

 

Sami D said:

Hello Ehsani2

My central point was not related to US foreign policy per se. It is, rather, the fact that ALL the advanced countries of the world, especially the US and England, developed and prospered not from capitalism, or “from Mars”. It was thanks to non-capitalistic, non-free market policies (in addition to sucking out of the resources of other countries). They relied on massive government subsidies of infant industries, and tariffs against competing imports (the free market advocates the opposite) – the very same policies they are now denying the third world, and for a good reason.

You mentioned the US trade deficit. The US is a massively indebted nation; i.e. part of its lauded prosperity is financed by borrowing – from China and Japan. If I sell my house, go on vacations and spending sprees, I will look prosperous too. While possessing the largest economy in the world, the savings of most Americans is now at zero or below; 46 million without health insurance, a ranking in various human indices at the bottom of the other developed countries of the world, countries that rely more on state intervention in the economy (ie, less capitalism than the US) in their economy on behalf of education, housing, healthcare. That’s because the prosperity capitalism is supposed to have generated for the US is captured by the top few. That is what capitalism does — generates inequalities.

We seem to have followed, more or less, opposite routes in the development of our economic visions. My vision today is simply independence and democracy, not leftism or socialism, per se. That people of any region or country should decide for themselves what’s good for their societies, where to invest their resources. And when people, not corporations, get to decide by sitting together and discussing, the choice is for less capitalism, less privatization of essential resources and more for social spending, in health, education. Capitalism generates massive inequalities in wealth, and hence in power; this is anti-democratic. People under capitalism have to rent themselves or starve; this is anti-freedom. Capitalism is an inhumane system, focuses on profit, while human needs are generated as secondary byproduct (to the few who can afford them, that is). It needs to grow and GROW, even when the earth can’t sustain such. It generates monopolies, waste, pollution, produces subservient politicians who agree with its imperatives and eliminates those that don’t. It encourages selfishness, atomizes society into distant individuals, turning citizens into materialistic consumers. A system that is based on greed is unsustainable, certainly indefensible.

August 3rd, 2007, 11:51 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

SAMI D,

May I ask how old you are?

August 4th, 2007, 12:00 am

 

Mark Eichenlaub said:

Excellent write up Joshua. Haven’t gotten to the new site as quick as I should of but it’s extremely impressive. Congrats.

August 4th, 2007, 4:36 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

The rule of law is a critical element of free markets and capitalism. Surely, they must have covered that at your liberal rightist school.

My university had no political stand as I suppose neither did yours. I am also not a political windmill like some of us. 🙂

What means rule of law if governmental rules are supposed to be minimized like in your clubs free trade “advocating”? Is rule of law only the police and army? For a mature developed economy it is easy to adopt the free trade ideology. For underdeveloped countries free trade ideology doesn’t guaranty any results.

A good example of the private versus a social service is the health care system. USA’s private system is twice as expensive as the European “socialist” system and produces a miserable service from thee whole society’s viewpoint. Also a rightist free trade advocate must admit it if he bothers to watch statistics and WHO’s performance ratings.

Eshani2 Finland has for decades tried to sell icebreakers for USA (for needs in the Arctic). Finland has long experience in building those special ships. However the trade negotiations have been unsuccessful, because USA’s legislation demands that those ships are built in USA. (By the way Soviet Union and Russia bought several of those icebreakers.) USA is a “real” moral free trade example for Syria and others indeed …

PS Eshani2 a top Iraq MP said that no “free trade” oil law (which was “astonishingly” written by Americans) under occupation. The US regime must be disappointed that Iraqis do not understand to give away the oil with a minimum price and have a minimum control to their own natural resources. Seems that four years of US free trade education for Iraqis has not been a success.

August 4th, 2007, 6:47 am

 

Mo said:

Hi Josh,

Very nice interview on the Syrian TV (by Reem Haddad), congratulations!
Out of curiosity, was there anything censored or removed from the interview?

August 4th, 2007, 7:13 am

 

t_desco said:

Sami D,

I think most modern proponents of the infant industry argument (like Ha-Joon Chang) would stress the importance of internal competition in those infant industries, so why would you qualify this as “non-capitalistic”? Implicitly you are accepting one of the premisses of free-marked fundamentalism, the false dichotomy between state and capitalism.

This does have a Syrian angle, by the way, as I suspect that monopolies (used by some as an easy way to enrich themselves at the cost of society) will be the main social obstacle to the development of the Syrian economy.

August 4th, 2007, 7:32 am

 

Joshua said:

Thanks Mo,

I recorded the interview for Syrian satellite TV with Reem Haddad a week before I left Syria. It was aired the day I left so I didn’t get a chance to see it. Reem called me while I was in the Syrian airport to say it was going on air that evening, alas. It took some time for them to get the interview translated and subtitles arranged.

I don’t know if anything was cut from the interview as I haven’t seen it. I am glad you enjoyed it.

I did a similar interview with Johnny Abou on al-Dunya channel a week earlier in Arabic.
Best, Joshua

August 4th, 2007, 11:18 am

 

t_desco said:

Is the Al-Houri mosque at Beirut Arab University linked to the Imam al-Ouzai Institute? Does anybody know? Thanks.

August 4th, 2007, 1:29 pm

 

Sami D said:

Ehsani2: Not sure of the relevance of my age to the discussion. Maybe I am missing something.

T_desco: I agree that it is a false dichotomy between state and capitalism. It is never either or, anyway; in this case it is more like major vs minor. The point is that the main driver for development for most advanced states of today (Japan, US, UK, Germany, East Asia,..) was the state, not capitalism; the minor being internal competition or other things. That the free market as the main driver will not bring prosperity — far from it, as I detailed above.

Ultimately, within the vision of democracy, independence and individual freedom, states and communities should have the right to decide what’s best to do for their development. The socially detrimental byproducts of the free market I listed have to be factored in the bottom line, not just profit. I would like to see people driven to improve not by the desire to make the other guy lose (i.e., competition), with all the negative side-effects that it generates; but by other more socially constructive drives.

Good point on Syria and monopolies. And these monopolies will likely be a reflection not of someone who won a fair competition in a free market setting; but rather, how much connection and wealth a person has. They already exist in fact: The Makhloufs, the Khoulis & not-long-ago Khaddams. Real capitalism would only replace those names with other ones, like the Murdochs & the Waltons.

August 5th, 2007, 11:02 am